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“I got to thinking, I said, "We can take those plow coulters off of the big plows and adapt them to the fertilizer bar in the front of the 7000 planter.” And that's what we ended up doing. We would reinforce that fertilizer bar, of course take the fertilizer openers off if it had it. And we would reinforce that with pretty heavy angle iron and end up with the same shape as the coulter bracket where it fits on the big plow.”

John Shipp

In this week’s “No-Till Influencers and Innovators” podcast, we take another look back at the early days of no-till in western Kentucky. However, this episode is different than most of the podcasts in this series as it features a former John Deere dealer and his memories of the rapid growth of no-till in the western Kentucky area.

John Shipp operated Shipp Implement Company at Russellville, Kentucky, in the 1970s and 1980s and was deeply involved with no-till, much to the chagrin of John Deere, who was not happy with the movement to no-till among the area’s growers … preferring to sell large horsepower tractors, moldboard plows and discs.

Now retired from the farm equipment business and living in Clarksville, Tennessee, Shipp shares in this podcast a few of his no-till memories and his battles the rigid rules John Deere had for dealers.

His battles with Deere started when he started modifying John Deere 7000 planters for no-till by adding more weight and plow coulters. Without these modifications, farmers had little chance of using this planter to no-till double-crop soybeans after wheat. To say John Deere was unhappy with what Shipp was doing is an understatement.

In the early 1980s, Shipp further irritated the John Deere finance folks in Moline by offering a never-before-tried used equipment bank-rolling plan. While John Deere Credit executives said he couldn’t do what he was doing, he continued the program that allowed area farmers to purchase used equipment. This was a time when life on the farm was tough, with low grain prices and high input costs keeping growers from investing in new farm machinery.

Later, Shipp followed with an idea for burning soybean oil as a replacement for diesel fuel in the all-green tractors being sold at the dealership, which led to further concerns with John Deere management about potential diesel tractor engine damage.

And then there’s the story of the grower who bought a Kinze no-till planter, but insisted that it be painted John Deere green to blend in with the rest of their equipment. A Kinze planter purchase that was suggested by the John Deere area manager.

Listen for the rest of the story as No-Till Farmer Editor Frank Lessiter interviews former Kentucky John Deere dealer John Shipp.

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